What is Dual Channel RAM ?
Dual-Channel is having RAM installed on TWO channels which belong to the same “lane” as shown in the lower part of the figure.
This “dual-channel” set up speeds up data transfer between the CPU and RAM memory.
We are not going to get into the details how it works but the basic idea is that if you have two “roads” instead of “one” there’s just more space for data to travel as shown in Figure 1.
If you want all the computer jargon you can check it out on wikipedia.
Single channel vs Dual Channel Gaming Performance
How Much fps do you get out of it?
The number of dots is in the figure is not proportional to the amount of data that is being transfered in the dual-channel set up.
You are not going to get 2x as many framerates with a dual-channel set up (although that will be the case in a few instances we’ll go over soon).
How much fps you get out of it depends on the settings, your CPU, the game and so many more factors thus you want to look for benchmarks for the game you’re going to play.
Here’s a good rule of thumb though:
The more GPU demanding the application, the lower the gains and that’s because Dual-Channel or Quad-Channel Set ups ONLY speed up the CPU data reading process. It has nothing to do with the dedicated GPU.
On a very GPU demanding game like CoD and BattleField V or Fortnite you will get about 5 or 10 extra framerates (if you’re lucky).
However, if you don’t have a dedicated GPU but only a integrated GPU then that game becomes CPU dependent and you can get as much as 2x many framerates as shown below.
If you have a dedicated GPU on the other hand, you won’t get as many gains, your framerates will already be sky high and you’ll only get a 5-10fps extra fps.
Buying RAM to make it RUN in Dual-Channel Mode
It’s not as easy as just getting two RAM sticks of the same size as you’ve seen in the figure.
It’s not that difficult either…
The easiest way is just two buy TWO EXACT SAME RAM sticks. That means the same:
- Type: DDR3, DDR4 or DDR5. We are in the 5th generation now.
- Size: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB.
- Speed: 1600Mhz, 2400Mhz, 3600Mhz. This is usually equivalent to the same generation.
- Latency: CL17, CL14, CL15, CL16. This is tricky as it may change from brand to brand despite being of the same type.
- Form Factor: If you’re setting up Dual-channel on a desktop, you have to make sure they both fit into the same socket you have: DIMM, SDIMM. All laptops have the same form factor so it’s not an issue.
If this is too much computer jargon for you….
Just buy two ram sticks from the same vendor or ask for the exact same product and be done with it.
Setting Up Dual-Channel RAM on a Laptop
If you bought 1 RAM stick as additional RAM to a laptop that already has 8GB or 4GB RAM (thus you’re adding 4GB or 8GB RAM), you just need to place it on the free RAM slot. There are some cases in which a laptop does not have an additional RAM slot and whataever RAM is installed is soldered into the motherboard. In this scenario, you cannot have your RAM set up in Dual-Channel.
For more information on how to upgrade RAM on Laptops please check my detailed post on the topic.
Setting Up Dual-Channel RAM on a PC or Desktop
Desktops will have four or even 8 RAM slots available, all you need to do is place those TWO RAM sticks into slots of the same color. If you’ve got 4 ram sticks to make a quad-channel RAM set up, just placea the extra TWO on the black slots just make sure they are the exact same RAM sticks.
Checking For Dual-Channel RAM
Your PC or laptop may already be running in dual-channel or quad-channel mode.
You can find out by installing a software like CPU-Z then clicking on the memory TAB as shown below.
Q: Is dual channel ram better than single channel for gaming ?
On the other hand, if you’re getting a dual-channel set up with RAM sticks that are a generation older, it’s not going to be better than single channel. Newer generations of RAM( DDR5 as of 2022) give enourmous FPS gains over dual-channel mode. All things being equal, dual-channel should be faster and better than single-channel though.
Q: What about Quad Channel For gaming?
Quad-Channel is not available on laptops. Only available on PCs. Although for other applications you may see 2x improvements (under special conditions) for gaming purposes the fps gains are not significant. Any fps increase however is very welcomed if you’re playing competitively.
Q: How to identify single channel and dual channel ram?
Q: Does dual channel ram increase fps?
Yes, you should see at least a 5-10fps on the worst case scenario and a +30fps gain on the best case scenario.
If you don’t seen FPS gains, it may be due to one of the following reasons:
- Your game is too GPU demanding. Dual Channel only speeds up CPU speed thus is mostly useful either at lower settings or on CPU demanding games.
- Your settings (graphics) are too high for you to see any significant gains. It’s much harder to see improvements on higher settings especially if they are way too hardware demanding for your computer in which case only a better dedicated GPU will give you significant gains.
- Assuming dual-channel has been set up correctly you should see at least 5-10 fps gain if you’ve got a super fast CPU and top end GPU which is already pulling +150 fps on Epic settings.
- You have not properly set up dual-channel mode. It is very easy to screw this up especially if you don’t buy two ram sticks from the same vendor. Any mismatch in latency, socket type and so on will disable dual-channel mode.
- It is best to install the software I’ve shown above and check if the DC Mode text appears on your computer.
Q: Is Dual-Channel worth it?
It depends on what kind of hardware you have and how important small differences of framerates makes to you. For example, if you have very low-end hardware and lack a dedicated GPU it’s definitely going to boost CPU performance thus getting you more framerates especially on lower settings. If you have superb hardware (one of the latest dedicated GPUs) , you will only get 5-10 fps gains at the most.
Thus it depends on the situation.
Q: Do you need Dual-Channel For gaming?
- I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.